Depending on your skill level, a metronome is either your best friend or your worst nightmare. Metronomes are devices (now commonly in the form of an iPhone app) that help keep steady time when practicing music.

A song generally needs to keep a steady tempo (think speed), otherwise it will sound rushed, dragged, or otherwise chaotic. A metronome beeps or clicks at a steady rate, giving you a solid beat to play along with.

Before beginning to practice with a metronome, you need to set it to the correct tempo. Metronomes are set by choosing a set amount of Beats Per Minute (BPM). 60 BPM is quite slow (one beat per second), while 240 is fast (4 beats per second).

How to Use a Metronome

When practicing with a metronome, it is important to start slow. Successfully keeping time with a slow beat will improve your timing and technique, and allow you to increase speed without sacrificing precision or technique. Practicing with a metronome can feel monotonous, but it is crucial, no matter how novice or advanced you are. Be sure to spend some time each week playing along with a metronome, whether you are practicing guitar or learning piano. You’ll be glad you did!